A growing body of research shows that proper diet is beneficial not only for physical but also mental health. For example, teens who eat junk food and other unhealthy foods are 80% more likely to suffer from depression than their peers who eat a good diet.
Nutrition plays a key role in brain development. Nutrients are the basis for the formation of proteins, enzymes, brain tissue and neurotransmitters. Omega-3 fatty acids and zinc help to form connections between neurons. In addition, nutrition indirectly affects the brain through the intestinal microflora. Our bodies are inhabited by billions of beneficial bacteria. They crowd out pathogens and regulate the immune system. Certain beneficial bacteria produce B vitamins, which are essential for the brain. A healthy gut microflora reduces inflammation in the body that can impair mood and thinking. A diet high in fat and sugar is bad for the intestines and therefore the brain. Some studies indicate that sugar worsens the symptoms of schizophrenia.
The Mediterranean diet is ideal for the brain. The diet is based on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, olive oil. Try to choose meals with a minimum of calories and a maximum of useful micronutrients. The brain needs B vitamins. People with low levels of vitamin B12 are more likely to suffer from depression and dementia (dementia). Bad mood is often associated with a lack of folate. Depression can also be caused by a lack of iron. Omega-3 fatty acids improve thinking, memory, and possibly mood. Zinc regulates the body’s response to stress, and low levels of the trace mineral can lead to depression. Fermented foods such as kefir, yogurt, and sauerkraut are useful for maintaining a healthy microflora. Fatty fish like salmon provide omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, zinc, selenium, and other brain-boosting nutrients. And dark chocolate contains antioxidants that improve blood flow to the brain, improving memory and mood.
Salty snacks, chocolate and fruit juice also have negative effects on mental wellbeing. The benefits of including fruits and vegetables in the diet are likely due to valuable micronutrients, the researchers note.